Don’t Bet On It

August 1, 2003

Woody Allen once said, "Don’t knock masturbation, it’s sex with someone you love." I’m telling you that for two reasons. The first is, when you start with an image like that, there’s no place to go but up. The second is, I think of that quote whenever I play solitaire, which is probably why I hardly play solitaire anymore. In fact, very few people seem to play solitaire anymore, compared with the almost epidemic levels of solitaire-playing that followed the introduction of a computer version on everybody’s work computer, but it’s still out there. The beauty of solitaire is I’m playing against someone I know I can beat – at least part of the time, unlike Scrabble with my wife, which I go into knowing I’ll lose. But at least that’s doing something with someone I love, and I’m one up on Woody Allen for being able to say it’s with another person.

The really great thing about computer solitaire, though, is that the computer helps you a lot when you’re playing so it’s not necessary to remember all those "rules" and "instructions" that always throw me off when I play card games like poker. I’ve watched a bit of the poker national championships on television, and have learned two things. The first is, watching poker is slightly more exciting than watching people move furniture (although if you feel differently, you can find people moving furniture on a different channel). The second is, poker players don’t seem to take the game seriously at all. Whenever I play poker I’m happy when I get a good hand. I jump up and say, "Three sevens! In your face, suckers!" Those guys sit around all looking like they’ve just swallowed a flatworm.

But I digress. Doesn’t it seem odd that no one plays solitaire as much as they used to? Solitaire – the name is derived from "solus", the Latin for "alone and would rather do anything but what I’m supposed to be doing" and "terr", which is short for "Terry", the guy who invented the game. The odd spelling is because the game was invented during the Dark Ages when no one could agree on how to spell anything. In fact, for twenty years after the invention of the printing press there was a confused group of people (the same sort who, today, go into coffee shops and order "expresso") who thought the game was called folitaire, until someone said, "Folitaire? What the heck if that?" Eventually solitaire led to the decline of chivalry because the pages who were supposed to be polishing their knight’s armor were spending most of their time playing solitaire. This resulted in the deaths of many knights who were wearing rusty armor when they went around in the woods beating up other knights, which was their main occupation. With no knights around to provide entertainment people realized they’d better quit spending so much time playing solitaire, so they held the Renaissance, followed by the Enlightenment, when people who’d gotten very smart during the Renaissance decided to use that knowledge to find new ways to kill each other. It’s also when the Earl of Sandwich discovered that if you put a slice of ham between some pieces of bread you could eat and keep one hand free for playing solitaire. This led to the corruption of the aristocracy, the decline of monarchic government, and the Industrial Revolution.

Yes, there were other factors involved, but solitaire was behind it all. The Information Age and the technology boom were accompanied by people playing computer solitaire when they were supposed to be working in record numbers. In fact, the push for newer, faster, and better ways to play solitaire helped push technology forward. Where will solitaire take us next? No one knows, but I have a feeling the next advance will be putting solitaire on other planets. If nothing else it’ll give astronauts something to do on those long flights.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

As I’ve Matured…

I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.

I’ve l earned that one good turn gets most of the blankets.

I’ve learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just jack asses.

I’ve learned that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others – they are more screwed up than you think.

I’ve learned that depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

I’ve learned that it is not what you wear, it is how you take it off.

I’ve learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you’re finished.

I’ve learned to not sweat the petty things, and not pet the sweaty things.

I’ve learned that ex’s are like fungus, and keep coming back.

I’ve learned age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

I’ve learned that I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy it.

I’ve learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.

I’ve learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

I’ve learned that 99% of the time when something isn’t working in your house, one of your kids did it.

I’ve learned that there is a fine line between genius and insanity.

I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away. And the real pains in the ass are permanent.

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